Tackling the surfeit of data
I’ve written before here about Higher Education regulation (see for example this general commentary and this post on information provision) and the excess of information provision available to prospective students.
It’s pleasing therefore to see that HEFCE is undertaking a review of providing information about higher education. The aims of the review are set out as follows:
The review will aim to ensure that:
- wherever possible, the different elements of the provision of information fall within a coherent framework, across UK institutions
- we gather sound evidence to help us form the future information
- the outcomes of different mechanisms suit the issues they are designed to address
- information is usable and accessible, and that we are able to make the best use of technology to facilitate this in the future.
The review will reflect on how much this area of our work costs the public purse. It will also consider the role of a range of organisations in providing independent, contextualised, robust, comparable and usable information.
The review will look at the purpose and use of NSS results, at the Unistats site and the Key Information Set data as well as the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (Delhe) survey. It is also going to examine how this data is used by prospective students. If all goes well this should be an extremely valuable piece of work and will, it is to be hoped, result in a significant reduction in the quantity of data collected and published (and the bureaucratic burden on universities) in favour of an improvement in the quality of information available to applicants.
A long way to go but let’s hope that the group overseeing the work, the Higher Education Public Information Steering Group (HEPISG, from which acronym I’m afraid I still derive puerile amusement) will do its job well and we will see some real change in this area.